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How Google AMP Has Changed SEO

How Google AMP Has Changed SEO

If you’ve spent any time in online marketing or SEO, you know the landscape is constantly changing. To keep up with technology, you have to research and learn to stay ahead of the curve. Last year, Google announced the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, poised to change the mobile web experience. That was October. Now that we’re almost a year out from that announcement, what is it doing to SEO?

What is Google AMP?

Google AMP is a protocol for web designers and developers. It’s an open-source project, developed by Google, in collaboration with WordPress, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The point of the project is to improve the speed of mobile websites, as Google’s research shows websites lose an average of 40% of visitors if the website fails to load within three seconds. Websites that deploy AMP technology are able to improve the load speed, and thus the overall mobile experience.

Google Accelerated Mobile Pages Preview

AMP is also thought you be a reaction to Facebook’s Instant Articles initiative, which allows content to load quickly directly within the Facebook app.

The Technology Powering Google AMP

AMP is built with a stripped-down version of HTML and JavaScript. It’s limited only to what is required to show information to a mobile user, allowing 10x fewer data to pass compared to a traditional website.

AMP HTML is just a simplified version of regular HTML. You can identify it with a lightning bolt in the code. The majority of AMP HTML tags match traditional HTML tags, though some have been replaced or modified to improve performance.

AMP JavaScript is an optimized JavaScript library, allowing for externals to be asynchronously loaded in that library. No single element can block the view of others. Any slow CSS is disabled, and scripts from third-parties aren’t loaded by default.

Developers can optionally use AMP Cache to allow Google to cache AMPs. The cached versions of AMP websites are delivered through a content delivery network (CDN). Through the use of the AMP Cache, all graphics and JavaScript files are loaded from the same source. Because it also includes a validation system, the page is fully functional without reliance on any external sources.

How Has Google AMP Affected SEO?

Shortly after Google rolled out the first deployment that focused on English-language news publishers, Google said the AMPs weren’t drawn into results, just an improvement on the user experience. They have said AMP is not an official ranking factor, however, because AMPs improve site load time, which is a ranking factor, they have played a role in SEO.

  • AMP pages are placed higher in the results. AMPs show higher in the mobile search results so users don’t have to vertically scroll. They’re formatted so they show in a horizontal carousel for easy swiping, which gives any top ranked AMP pages great visibility.
  • Most people are actually reading the content. People who click on AMP pages are more likely to engage with the content and less likely to bounce. This makes it a great option for people who use long-form content to cultivate relationships with readers.
  • AMP isn’t solely static. Though they are a stripped-down version of the technology used on the full web, you can still include dynamic content, video, audio, and social sharing buttons. As time goes on, we’ll see additional more complex page elements added.
  • Google Analytics supports Google AMP. Because of this, you can see how users are responding to the AMP versions of your pages. You can track page views, clicks on various parts of your landing pages, and social interactions.
  • AMP Pages won’t generate leads. Until the ability to add opt-in forms comes to AMP, you won’t be able to build leads with it. If that’s your primary focus, you won’t really see any benefit from implementing AMP on your website.
  • AMP could hamper link building efforts. The URL of AMP pages is still rooted in Google.com, so if you get links to your AMP pages, you won’t get the same link juice and benefit you would than if someone linked to your regular page. Since link building plays a major role in good SEO, this is a problem for many websites.
  • Your HTML needs to be flawless. Google won’t cache your AMP pages on the web unless they are 100% free of code errors, so unless you are, or can hire a professional to do the work for you, you may not be able to capitalize on AMP.
  • AMP doesn’t really help eCommerce websites. AMP focuses mostly on long-form content and articles. Generally, this doesn’t provide answers to questions your customers would ask. Unless your business website has a substantial library of blog posts and articles, there isn’t much use for AMP HTML yet.

Are You Ready for Google's Mobile-First Index?

What About the Mobile-First Index?

First announced in November 2016, we still haven’t seen it launched. It’s important to include AMP in your websites theme before the launch of the index, because it’s better than using a responsive website design or separate domain for your mobile website.

AMP documents load 2x faster than standard websites, and just a tenth of the latency of a responsive mobile page.

Still not sure you should make AMP a priority?

Conclusion

Ultimately, it’s too soon to see how the AMP Project will fit into the future of SEO. Unless you’re focused on long-form content, there’s not much benefit for you, but that could easily change in the coming months and years. There may be a similar system implemented for eCommerce and business websites later. But, the fact still remains that page speed and mobile friendliness is important for all websites.

 

About Garry Grant

Garry Grant is a veteran expert in search engine optimization and the digital marketing industry. With nearly 20 years of experience, Garry has successfully built a multi-service operation at SEO, Inc., developing proprietary technologies through complex strategic solutions. He has extensive experience in key initiatives and operational responsibilities grounded in information technology and performance management.

Garry’s expertise and esteemed reputation, coupled with SEO Inc.’s impressive client success record has earned him such accolades as Entrepreneur Magazine's 2005 Hot List for the Hottest Internet Property, Inc. 500 2007 Honorary award for Fastest Growing Private Company in America, an Inc. 500 top 50 Company in San Diego, and interviews with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post.

Garry Grant began his online career in 1993 creating strategic Web and e-business solutions for Homepage.com, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Premiere Radio Networks, Clear Channel Communications, EarthLink and Artisan Motion Pictures. Today, Garry and SEO Inc.’s highly skilled digital strategists develop proprietary technology and strategic digital marketing direction for Fortune 500 companies including, SC Johnson, McAfee, Entrepreneur.com., Inc Magazine, IGN, Tacorri, LPL Financial, National Kidney Foundation, G4 TV, Fuel TV and Sony, just to name a few.